So moral quandary of the day -what do you do if you are eating at a restaurant or cafe and consider that the food is over-priced, but then realise at the end of it all that you have been under-charged? Do you tell the waiter of the mistake or pay the bill and walk away, a little more briskly than you might otherwise have done?
Can you guess what I did? Do you know me well enough by now?
Place your bets please.
Diane and me were having lunch in a vegetarian restaurant in the centre of town. I was unexpectedly in town after having cancelled the last Leeds gig so I could do the Oxford thing, so it was good to see her.
We'd gone for some veggie mush in Neal's Yard, but once we were seated, we expressed surprise at the price of the £10.50 main course. Admittedly it was central London, but it was only a little cafe and it's not like there was any meat in it, but we thought what the hey and ordered some unpronouncable dish and a couple of fruit juices.
It took a while to arrive, but was admittedly quite special. Not sure it was worth the price tag, but you know, we weren't going to complain. What with us being British and all that.
We wanted to get some shopping in before I headed off to Warwick, so we called for the bill. It was £18.20, so I bunged in twenty quid to include the tip. For the moment I had not noticed anything strange. But after a few seconds the penny dropped. Our meals alone should have been more than that. I looked at the bill to see if there was some kind of special offer, but it didn't really detail the cost of the meals on it, just had the total written on the back. Clearly whoever had added up the cost had neglected to carry a one. So should we tell them about this oversight, or just get up and leave, walking a bit faster than we might otherwise have done.
I think £20 was a fair price for this meal. I think £30 would have been a bit expensive for lunch in a cafe, no matter how unpronounceable the name of the dish. I made the call that we should leave, walking a bit quicker than we usually would have done. Even though we would be stealing almost an entire main course, cleverly concealed inside our stomachs, where only the most thorough of waiters or policemen would have discovered it.
It seemed to be some kind of justice to me and I didn't have a problem with the decision. After all even if they realised the mistake the cafe could hardly blame us. We had paid the bill that had been presented to us and might easily have been unaware of the mistake. I couldn't see us having to go to prison for this. A good brief could get us off.
I felt the cafe was still making money out of us and so it was a largely victimless crime.
I suppose, in hindsight, and this really didn't strike me at the time, that there is the chance that whichever waiter had made the mistake might be called to account for it at the end of the day. But it's unlikely. Someone would have to check all the bills very carefully. I would guess they just tot up the totals and check that the till has that much money in it. So he still got his tip despite his slowness and his bad mathematical skills.
Only the faceless evil businessman who runs this vegetarian/vegan restaurant is missing out. And he is as bad as Ronald Macdonald, so no-one need shed a tear for he.
I feel slightly bad, but hope you guessed correctly which option I would go for. This should have given you a clue
. But then there are other times that I do the right thing. Unlike practically every fictional character I am a mixture of good and bad, of self-interest and selflessness and self-interested selflessness. And anyway the cafe owner got his revenge as his food gave me really bad wind. Though quite why he would wish to punish the comedian Francesca Martinez who was in the car with me on the way up to Warwick, I do not know.
And remember you only have til the 10th May to perform your own act of selflessness and self-interest by sponsoring my programme. You get to give to charity, but plus you might get a load of free stuff that's worth more than your initial investment. We're just below £2000 at the moment, which is incredible, so if you haven't done so already click the link below and donate something.